Making Bacon

I love it when a plan comes together... 

Typically, following on from that post touching on integrity and the like, this one's all about the freebies. As I've said before, I've never really claimed integrity but also don't accept everything I get offered as - splutter - a "respected" blogger. With certain products and items though, I'm very open to suggestion. As someone once said, we're all whores, we're just negotiating on price. My price, it transpires, is a box of meat and some free salt. 

The meat in question came from The Well Hung Meat Co (arf arf) who contacted me to see if I'd be interested in sampling one of their nifty "Thrifty Meat Boxes"? As the name suggests, this is a compilation package of traditionally cheaper cuts, plus an organic chicken. And as anyone who's ever come here for Sunday lunch will know, long slow cooking is one of my favourite things so offers of brisket, hogget shoulder and pork shoulder or belly will generally be met with a thumbs up. 
Yep. Maldon do pepper as well... 
The salt in question came from Maldon Sea Salt. Would I like to participate in their "Flavour of Spring" competition in return for some free salt and a couple of tickets to The Edible Garden Show at Ally Pally next month? As a keen amateur cook who's rarely without a box of Maldon in the kitchen and an allotment holder, again the thumb's up was always likely. 

I'll get on to the proper Flavour of Spring thing in due course when there's some slightly more interesting veg around or when, at least, the asparagus in the shops is British rather than Mexican. In the meantime though, I had other plans... and, with a distinct lack of freezer space for large lumps of meat, it was a good excuse to crack on with them. 

One confession. The chicken was seasoned liberally, drizzled in lemon juice, basted in butter and roasted in the now standard fashion (take a bow, Mr Hopkinson) and thoroughly demolished. So enthusiastically, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture - doh - but it was golden and lovely and salty and crispy. 

Heat + Time + Hogget = utter joy
The camera was on hand though for the hogget shoulder - stabbed, stuffed with lumps of garlic, generously seasoned (it's good having free salt), and left to its own foil-wrapped devices for about four, five hours whereupon it fell apart like North London football teams against Chelsea. 
The whole piece of shoulder
Then there was the pork. I had two things in mind. First up, I wanted to have another crack at Tim Hayward's home cured bacon recipe as we'd recently finished the last few rashers from version one. That piece had been a little too salty on the fresh slices but much better post-freezing. This time round, I though I might have the patience to soak it for a couple of hours when out of the cure. Pork shoulder option two was to test a pulled pork recipe for a barbecue feature I'm working on - more on that at a later date. 

Future pulled pork - post-marinade, pre oven
Happily the piece of shoulder received was big enough to attempt both. Sliced in half, that left just about enough fat to warrant the lower chunk spending a week in maple syrup and Maldon salt flakes while the top slab, with the bone, would get 24 hours of marinating and a few hours in a moderately hot oven. With a little fork action, that turned into a bowl full of unctuous pleasures... 

Heat + Time + Pork Shoulder = oh you get the point
Meanwhile, in the fridge, this was happening. 

Maple syrup, smoked and plain salt and about a week from being bacon

I'll spare you all the details - not least as Tim said it first and better - and most of the photos came out pretty much identical: there is only so much you can do to make a slab of meat in an enamel tray and covered in maple syrup and salt look different from day to day. Even going for a mix of Maldon Sea Salt and Maldon Smoked Sea Salt flakes didn't make it any more photogenic. 

Tomorrow this will be sandwiches. Oh yes. It WILL be sandwiches... 
However, the daily turning and massaging was oddly therapeutic - I do like a bit of ritual with my food - and, as I write this, Bacon 2.0 is out of the syrup and sitting in water to try and reduce some of the saltiness found in Bacon 1.0. It's then being left to mature for a day whereupon it's going to be the key ingredient in tomorrow's Sunday breakfast. Obviously. Do you think there might be a photo or two posted tomorrow? Yeah, I think you're probably right...   


AG said…
1. I know you get this all the time, but I've got to say it: best food blog title ever. Hands down.
2. That Well Hung Meat Co name had me giggling like a pig-tailed school girl for longer than I'd like to admit.
3. Maldon does pepper?! Whoa. Going to have to look out for that.
4. You're making bacon. BACON. You just might be my hero. I've already had a glimpse at those oink sarnies & they look legit like something I'd devour. :)
5. No, I don't normally number my comments. OCD & too much sugar in my tea this morning plus the awesomeness of this post does weird things to a girl.

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